Sweet Bread Recipe (Basic Sweet Yeast Dough)
This sweet bread recipe makes a beautiful, soft, lightly sweetened and buttery bread loaf that’s delicious as a toast with your morning coffee or tea. Top it with some butter and jam and it’s as good as any cake or dessert! Lots of butter and egg yolks keep this bread recipe perfectly soft for a while. But, if you have leftovers they make amazing french toast or a french toast casserole. Anyways you slice it, it’s a winner!
If you’ve ever had Challah or brioche bread, this one is very similar. Warm out of the oven you’ll be fighting every fiber of your being not to eat the whole thing! You’ve been warned 😉
This recipe is also the same exact one I use when I make any kind of filled buns or pastries or rolls. One batch will give you about 16 good-sized buns of your choice.
Things to make with this sweet yeast bread dough recipe:
- sweet bread
- cinnamon rolls
- poppy seed rolls
- cheesecake danishes
- jam-filled buns
- cherry pie filling filled buns
- chocolate babka
Sweet Bread Ingredients:
Scroll to the bottom for a full printable recipe and instructions.
The basis for any good bread is good and unexpired yeast. I use active dry yeast or Platinum Superior Baking yeast. The latter always produces better-baked goods with more of a rise without collapsing when out of the oven.
Also, anytime I make yeast goods I use Canadian flour. It is higher in gluten than regular American all-purpose flour which yields better results, especially in this sweet bread recipe. A good alternative for Canadian flour will be bread flour.
How to make Sweet Bread Recipe
- Start by ensuring that your yeast is active by dissolving the active dry yeast in warm milk and leaving it in a warm place for about 10-15 minutes. If the yeast has foamed up and risen slightly then you’re good to go. Otherwise, discard the yeast, and do not start this yeast bread with the recipe until you have unexpired active yeast.
Make the dough
- To a mixer bowl add the sifted flour, sugar, sour cream (pic 1), remaining milk, and the risen yeast mixture (pic 2).
- Knead on low speed using the hook attachment until the dough somewhat comes together (pic 3).
- Then turn up the speed slightly and continue kneading until it becomes very stretchy and tacky to touch. Add the butter and salt (pic 4) and knead it into the dough. Sometimes, tearing the dough into chunks helps to incorporate the butter (pic 5).
- The dough is well kneaded when you’re able to stretch a piece of the dough into a thin film/window without it tearing. This is called a “windowpane test” and it means that the gluten is well developed and will hold up the structure of the dough as yeast fills it with air bubbles.
Proof & Shape
- Transfer the dough to a well-oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel (pic 7) and allow to proof until doubled in size (pic 8).
- Next, dust your work surface with flour (pic 9) and add the dough (pic 10).
This recipe makes one large braid, if you wish to have smaller bread loaves divide the dough into two and braid 2 braids instead of one.
Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces – this is best done by weighing the dough (pic 11). Shape each piece into a tight ball, then roll into a 20-inch rope ( pic 12).
- Pinch the three ends together then shape a tight braid finishing by pinching the ends together again. Tuck both ends of the braid slightly underneath itself for better visual appeal.
- Carefully transfer the braid to a baking sheet (pic 13) and leave in a warm, draft-free place to proof until doubled in size ( pic 14).
- Then, brush with a beaten egg yolk and sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds (pic 15) or poppy seeds (optional).
- Bake in a preheated to 350F oven for about 30-35 minutes or until the top is evenly golden brown in color. Another way to ensure that the sweet bread is baked through is to insert an instant-read thermometer into the middle. It should register 195F when the bread is ready.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before cutting or serving.
How to store this bread loaf?
Wrap it tightly with plastic wrap or cut the sweet bread in half and store it in a gallon-sized ziplock bag for up to a week. If not planning to eat within a day or two, it is best to freeze it after tightly wrapping the bread loaf.
To thaw, leave on the counter until completely thawed or microwave in 30-second intervals until it’s soft and no longer frozen. Or, place in a preheated to 350F oven for about 10 minutes for that fresh-out-of-the-oven taste.
Other Yeast Baked Goods to try:
- Poppy Seed Pastry
- Rustic Farmer’s Bread
- White Chocolate and Blueberry Wreath Bread
- Rustic Baguette Recipe
Sweet Bread Recipe
This sweet bread recipe makes a beautiful, soft, lightly sweetened and buttery bread loaf that’s delicious as a toast with your morning coffee or tea.
Egg wash (whisk together)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tbsp water
- 3 to 4 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
Check the yeast: (see footnotes if you'd like to make this dough in the breadmaker)
Dissolve 2 tsp of active dried yeast with 1/2 cup milk and 1 tsp of sugar from the overall amount and leave in a warm location until frothy, about 10-15 minutes. If the mixture does not froth up and rise, discard the yeast and start over when you have a fresh batch of dried yeast.
Into a bowl of a mixer sift 3 cups of flour. Then add 1/3 cup sugar, remaining 1/2 cup warm milk, 4 egg yolks, 2 tbsp sour cream, 1 tbsp vanilla extract and the risen yeast mixture. Mix with a paddle attachment on low speed until it comes together, then switch to a kneading hook and knead on low speed (speed 2 to 3 on a Kitchenaid mixder) for about 20 minutes or until the dough is elastic, tacky to touch and you're able to stretch a piece of dough into a thin "window without it tearing.
Pro tip: Do not overknead, or the gluten strands will get overworked and tear, leaving you with a chunky dough that doesn't have the strength to hold a good rise of the dough.
[br][/br]Add 3 oz of butter and 1/4 tsp of the salt and knead it into the bread until no streaks of butter are seen, (~5-7 minutes). Sometimes tearing the dough into chunks helps to incorporate the butter easier/faster.
Oil the sides of the bowl and the dough, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and leave in a warm place to proof until doubled in size, about 1.5 hours. I preheat the oven at 200F for 2-3 minutes then turn it off and place the bowl into the oven with the heat off. This gives the dough a nice warm place without being too hot. Be careful not to overheat the oven as anything over the temp of 100F will kill the yeast instead of allowing it to proof.
This recipe makes one large braid. To make two smaller bread loaves divide the dough into two, then shape 2 separate braids instead of one like the recipe instructs to.
Once risen, divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Weighing the dough is the best way to divide the dough evenly. Roll each piece into a tight ball, then into a 20-inch log. Pinch the ends of the 3 logs together at one end, then braid them into a braid pinching the three ends together at the end as well. Tuck both ends of the braid underneath itself slightly to give it a better shape.
Transfer to a 12"x18" baking sheet, cover with a clean tea towel and transfer to a warm place once again until the braid doubles in size. You can repeat the trick with preheating the oven slightly once again (be very careful that the temp does not rise higher than 100F inside the oven while proofing).
Once doubled in size remove from the oven and preheat the oven to 350F with the baking rack in the middle.
Brush the braid with a beaten egg yolk and water and sprinkle with sesame seeds or poppy seeds if you wish. Applying the egg yolk mixture several times will give you a darker glaze once baked.
Bake the braid for about 30-35 minutes or until the top is golden in color and/or the inside of the sweet bread registers 195F. If the top starts to brown before the inside registers 195F loosely tent the bread with foil.
Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before cutting or eating.
Sweet Bread Recipe for Breadmaker
If you'd rather make the dough in the bread maker add the ingredients in the following order: milk, active dry yeast, vanilla extract, room temperature butter, salt, egg yolks, sour cream, flour, sugar. Turn the bread maker to a 1.5 hour dough cycle and allow it to run through. Then, continue with steps 4 and beyond.